Issue Date: May 16, 2011
Switch To Safer Chemicals Could Expand Employment
Shifting to production of safer substances, buttressed by reform of the federal chemical control law, can boost employment in the U.S. chemical sector, according to a report released on May 12. The report calls for revising the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act to discourage the production of hazardous chemicals and support innovation and global competitiveness. Prepared by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the report was commissioned by the BlueGreen Alliance, a partnership between labor unions and national environmental groups whose goal is to increase the number and quality of jobs in the green economy. “If we do not modernize U.S. chemical regulations,” the report says, “the chemical industry can be expected to continue its current model of competitiveness based on cost-cutting practices that eliminate jobs and minimize innovation.” To create new markets and investment opportunities, the report says, legislative reform should require dissemination of information on environmental and health hazards associated with chemicals and on possible alternatives. It also recommends new federal policies, such as tax incentives for investment in sustainable chemistry and federal support of green chemistry education. The American Chemistry Council, an industry trade group, did not provide comment on the report before C&EN’s deadline.
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